Facebook, Lidl and other leading companies commit to opening large distribution hubs in the submarket
When Ackerman & Co. moved forward with plans for Rockdale Technology Center, a 1-million-square-foot master-planned industrial park in Conyers, Ga., the site’s strategic location in the Rockdale/Newton County submarket of Atlanta was a big selling point.
Most importantly, the property offers convenient access to I-20, a major east-west highway that connects to Atlanta’s dense population centers to the west and to the ports of Savannah and Charleston to the east.
To date, Ackerman & Co. has developed two Class A distribution facilities on the 92-acre site of 135,000 square feet and 185,000 square feet. Later this quarter, Ackerman will begin development on its largest project so far on the site – a 325,000-square-foot facility that will serve a prominent manufacturing company.
“As land availability becomes more limited in industrial submarkets close-in to Atlanta, Rockdale County will continue attracting the interest of companies seeking modern, efficient distribution space,” said Brett Buckner, Senior Vice President of Ackerman & Co.’s Industrial Services group. “At Rockdale Technology Center, the ability for distributors to gain quick access to I-20 as well as connect to a CSX rail line are strategic advantages.”
Some big-name consumer companies are choosing to locate major distribution operations in the submarket for the same reasons.
Construction is expected to be completed this summer in Social Circle on a 970,000-square-foot flex data center for social media giant Facebook that will create an estimated 100 jobs, and Germany-based grocer Lidl recently announced plans for a 925,000-square-foot distribution center in Covington that will create 270 jobs and serve as its regional headquarters.
These major projects indicate that Rockdale/Newton County is becoming an increasingly prominent distribution hub for metro Atlanta. There is currently 1.7 million square feet under construction in the submarket, significantly higher than typical construction levels in a submarket that boasts one of the lowest vacancy rates in metro Atlanta at 3.7 percent. That compares to a market-wide vacancy rate of 7.2 percent as of 2Q 2020.
The Rockdale/Newton County submarket is part of Atlanta’s Snapfinger/I-20 East market, which totals 49,637,758-square-feet of industrial space. As of 2Q 2020, the market had the lowest vacancy rate in metro Atlanta at 3.2% and total year-to-date absorption of 473,594 square feet– one of the highest absorption rates in the market.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic initially resulted in a slowdown in leasing activity in the Atlanta industrial market at the start of the second quarter, leasing volumes have surged in recent weeks, and CoStar predicts vacancies are likely to remain below Atlanta’s historic average.